Starman is about to find an extraterrestrial company.
When SpaceX launches first capsule Crew Dragon This Saturday, March 2, during his test mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the vehicle will carry a kind of passenger: a humanoid dummy dressed in the elegant black and white space suit of the # 39; company.
This suit is also suitable for the inert body of Starman, the model of the red Tesla Roadster launched by SpaceX orbiting the sun last year. inaugural flight of the company Falcon Heavy rocket.
Related: SpaceX Dragon Crew Demo-1 Flight: What to Expect
"There is a – can I say mannequin?" Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for the reliability of construction and flight systems at SpaceX, told reporters Friday (22 February). "Is this the right word?"
In fact, the technical term is a bit more sophisticated than that.
"ATD," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, at the press conference, apparently referring to a anthropomorphic test dummy. "We prefer not to call them dummies."
"There is a puppet – a model – ATD – anything – in it," Koenigsmann replied. "And we will obviously measure the responses on the human body and the environment.We want to make sure that everything is perfect for, you know, the safety of astronauts."
Thus, the sensor-loaded DAE will be a little more sophisticated than Starman, which was not required to measure the loads or stresses during its epic flight.
And we will have to call it "ATD" – until SpaceX Brass tells us the opposite.
"In fact, I forgot to ask for the name," Koenigsmann said. "I know that he or she has a name."
(Hope this name is as cool as Starman or Skywalker Mannequin, the nickname Blue Origin gave his instrument dummy for suborbital test flights.)
Dragon Crew is based primarily on the Dragon robotic capsule that has been replenishing NASA in ISS since 2012. However, the crew variant includes seven seats, a survival system, an emergency escape system, touch screens, windows and other. important accessories related to the passenger.
There are also other important differences. For example, the Dragon robot has traditional deployable solar panels and is trapped by the huge robotic arm of the ISS. But the Crew Dragon solar panels are integrated into his chest and the capsule will be docked directly to the laboratory in orbit.
The uncladded upcoming flight, called Demo-1, will put Crew Dragon and its many systems to the test on a six-day mission. If everything goes as planned, Crew Dragon will leave the ISS on March 8 and will parachute into the Atlantic Ocean.
The same capsule will also perform a "high altitude abandonment test" in the coming months, thus proving the emergency evacuation system. The launch of Demo-2, in which a team dragon will carry two NASA astronauts into the ISS, is scheduled for July. Operational and contractual flights for the space agency will then begin.
SpaceX is not the only company to sign a contract with NASA's commercial teams. Boeing develops his own taxi astronaut, called the CST-100 Starliner. Starliner must make its first unarmed demonstration flight to the ISS no earlier than April.
Space.com's editor, Tariq Malik, contributed to this story. Mike Wall's book on the search for extraterrestrial life, "Over there"(Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.